Long Run regained his King George VI Chase crown at Kempton Park on Boxing Day with a performance full of guts and desire, as he managed to reel in Captain Chris in what is one of the most exciting renewals of the festive highlight in recent times.
Champion Court set the early fractions in heavy conditions, but he began to tire and there were only a couple in with a chance coming into the home straight, with Long Run looking the most likely winner.
However, he made a couple of glaring errors and Richard Johnson managed to get a real tune out of Captain Chris who jumped to the front at the last, but Sam Waley-Cohen managed to get Long Run back in contention and he nailed his main rival in the dying strides to land the prize and cement his place as a genuine 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.
2012 King George VI Chase Result:
1. Long Run (S Waley-Cohen) 15/8 Fav
2. Captain Chris (R Johnson) 16/1
3. Grands Crus (T Scudamore) 7/1
The King George VI Chase is the second most prestigious chase of the season in the UK with only the Cheltenham Gold Cup surpassing it, the race is run at Kempton on Boxing Day and it is one that main trainers target right from the outset of the winter. It is run over 3 miles and because of its date in December it is often used by the Gold Cup horses as a last prep for the big race in March. However, the King George can also be used as the main target for a season and a win here really does right their name in the record books and propels a horse into the very top rank of chasers.
The race was first run in February 1937 in honour of King George VI and it was run twice before the war with Southern Hero claiming the first ever race, he was a 12 year-old winner and to date he remains the oldest horse ever to have won the King George VI Chase. At the other end of the scale was Manicou who won the race in 1950 at just five years-old, and punters should take note that he remains the only horse younger than six to win the King George.
The list of winners of the King George Chase reads like a who’s who of National Hunt racing but there are two names on the list that stand out more any others and they are the great Desert Orchid and Kauto Star. The grey Desert Orchid was a hero at Kempton as he won the race a brilliant four times in just five years between 1986 and 1990, the David Elsworth horse was taken to the Nations hearts and his win in 1990 when 11 was one of the great performances. Most believed that the achievements of Desert Orchid would never be equalled, that was until Kauto Star arrived on the scene to surpass the achievements of Dessie with four consecutive wins. The Paul Nicholls horse has owned Kempton since 2006 and by winning in 2009 he became the most successful horse in King George Chase history, the style of his wins at Kempton have been second to none with some top class horses often beaten out of sight by Kauto Star.
One of the reasons the King George has become such an important race on the calendar is its position on Boxing Day each season, it is a tradition for the punters and fans to pack into Kempton each Christmas and the atmosphere on course is second to none. The roar from the crowd when a big favourite jumps the last in the lead is one of the great spectacles in sport and it is a firm fixture on the Christmas sporting calendar.
The King George Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day is always one that punters look forward to and the full list of declared runners for the race will be made available at the 48 stage. The Race Card will be comprehensive and include all the form for each of the runners on the card, this will help punters make their all important bet on the biggest race of the season outside of the Gold Cup.